Our Extended Family and Three DVC Resorts Trip - Jan 2015

Micah008

Well-known member
Table of Contents:
Day 1 - Arrival / Villas at Grand Floridian / Epcot / Hollywood Studios
Day 2 - Magic Kingdom
Day 3 - Mini-golf / Animal Kingdom Villas / Magic Kingdom
Day 4 - Magic Kingdom
Day 5 - Animal Kingdom
Day 6 - Hollywood Studios
Day 7 - Magic Kingdom
Day 8 - Epcot / Old Key West
Day 9 - Hollywood Studios
Day 10 - Epcot / Animal Kingdom
Day 11 - Departure


The Basic Plot:
We visited Disney World from Thursday 1/1 through Sunday 1/11 2015 (10 nights), staying at 3 different DVC resorts. The first 2 nights were at VGF in a Lake View Studio, the next 5 nights at AKV-Jambo in a Savanna View Studio, and the last 3 nights at OKW in a 1BR. We selected VGF for the proximity to Magic Kingdom, and the ability to sleep 5 in a studio. AKV was next, to align with the rest of my family who was staying there in DVC Value Studios for their entire stay. Lastly we selected OKW in a 1BR to give us more room to stretch out at the end of the trip, and again for the ability to sleep 5.

Also on part of the trip we had my sister, her family, and my parents along for 7 of the nights from 1/3 to 1/10. It was a total of 11 people at most, the majority of the days being 9 of us, and the beginning and end of the trip just the 5 of us.

This was our first time visiting in early January (we normally do late January and early February). We chose these dates in part because of when our annual passes would expire, in part because we could see more Christmas decorations, and these dates also allowed us to take DS6 out of school fewer days and fewer vacation days for me.


The Primary Cast:
Me: This was my 10th time to WDW (see signature for the list). The things I was most looking forward to on this trip were to see Christmas decorations, stay in a Savanna View room, and to be able to share our favorite place in the world with my extended family.

DW: She has also been to WDW 10 times including this trip, plus one trip to Disneyland growing up. On this trip she was most excited to try some new restaurants and to see the Christmas decorations everywhere.

DWTS: My wife's twin sister joined us again this trip. This was her 7th trip to WDW, and it had been 2 years since she last joined us. I think she was most excited just to get out of Wisconsin in January, but also loves Disney World.

DS6: This was his 6th trip to WDW. His favorite ride is the Mine Train, and his favorite character is Goofy. Now at 46" he can do almost everything, but there are a few he still just doesn't want to go on. He was excited for the warmer weather, and to have his cousins along for a trip (which was a surprise until a week before the trip)

DS4: This was his 5th trip to WDW. His favorite ride is Toy Story Mania, and his favorite character is Buzz Lightyear. He is finally at 38" (barely), so still misses out of quite a few rides... but is very good about it. Once he is tall enough, he says he wants to go on them all, including a few things his older brother still refuses to.


Additional Cast:
This group is made up of my younger sister, her husband, their DD7 and DS5, and my Mom and Dad. They stayed in 2 Value Studios at AKV-Jambo, for all 7 nights.

- My sister hadn't been to WDW since '91, and the rest of her family had never gone. They really wanted to join us before their oldest got too mature for the princesses, and now that their youngest was old enough and tall enough (44") to enjoy most things.

- My Mom was at WDW with me in March for the F&G Festival, and my Dad hadn't been there since '91 either. They mostly came to see the grandchildren, and watch their enjoyment as they experience things, but also planned some resort time and an extra day at Epcot.


Some Past Trip Photos:

April 1987 trip: (My Mom, sister, and I - we were 8 and 5)


February 1991 trip: (My Dad, sister and I)


February 2004 trip: (just DW and I)


February 2010 trip: (DS6 was 1 (almost 2) at the time)


January 2012 trip: (DS4 was only 1 at the time)


January 2013 trip:


January 2014 trip:


March 2014 trip:


August 2014 trip:
 
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Micah008

Well-known member
Day 1 - Arrival / Villas at Grand Floridian / Epcot / Hollywood Studios

Thursday January 1st
Crowd Level 9


We actually started this trip off a day earlier on New Years Eve, since we were flying out early on New Year's Day. We drove the 3 hours to Milwaukee, picking up DWTS along the way, and then checked into our hotel near the airport mid-afternoon... and were surprised with an upgrade.

We were staying for free using IHG points at a Holiday Inn Express, and the Platinum upgrade was to a room with a special kids room added on to what was basically normal hotel room, but it was actually perfect for us. (think DVC would ever make some rooms like this?)



We used the pool for a bit, went out for dinner nearby, celebrated the new year at about 8pm, and then all went to bed early... well before midnight.

In the morning we flew out, and landed in Orlando a little after noon. We had a quick lunch at the Chick-Fil-A in the airport (since we love them, and don't have one at home). We then headed down to the DME check-in, getting there at 1:00. Our bus didn't actually leave until 1:25, but we were at the Grand Floridian right at 2:00… only about 2 hours since our flight landed.

We immediately started seeing Christmas decorations everywhere, including some nice touches in the Villas building:





We found out our room wasn't ready yet, but we had a few ideas for the afternoon anyway, so it wasn’t a big deal.

Knowing it would be very crowded, our plan for the first few days of this trip were to spend more resort time, time at the pool, and go to a few other resorts to see Christmas decorations. The weather looked like it would be better for the pool tomorrow, so we headed out to go look at Christmas decorations instead, first at the Grand Floridian main building:



Then we headed over to the Wilderness Lodge (via monorail and boat). We we had never been there before, but always wanted to (and tried to stay there for this trip actually, but the waitlist never came through). This was #1 on our list also because we heard they had some of the best Christmas decorations of any resort.





We got a text saying that our room was ready, and we knew we needed to start getting ready for dinner, so we headed back to the Grand Floridian.

Here are a few pictures of our Lake View Studio, room 1304. We had stayed in a VGF Studio before, and really enjoyed it... but this was our first time with a Lake View.





And some pictures of the view from the balcony:







After a little time getting moved in and getting ready, it was time to head out for Dinner. We had a reservation at Chefs de France, since it didn’t really fit into the plans any other day we figured arrival day was as good as anything…

We decided to walk through the Polynesian over to the TTC to catch the monorail to Epcot. This gave us a chance to check out decorations at one more resort, and also really isn’t a bad walk from the VGF building (and will be better when construction is complete).





I know this may not be a popular statement… but I actually like the new lobby at the Polynesian. It is very open, colorful and has lots of natural light. I don’t have any emotional attachment to the old lobby, so unlike many people I guess I really don’t miss it.

On to Epcot… where there were still plenty of Christmas decorations still out.



When we got to Epcot this was the first we really noticed how busy the parks were, and remembered this was a crowd level 9 day. But, since we really only were planning dinner and then checking out the Osborne lights, it really didn't matter to us how crowded it was for everyone else.

This was our first time having dinner at Chefs de France. The 3 of us adults had the Lobster Bisque, and then split the Duck and Beef Short Ribs. The kids split Chicken Strips and Pasta (both eating more bread than anything, and stealing some of our Bisque). The meal was good, but it wasn't the best meal we ever had or anything… with the Duck in particular being a little dry, but everything else was cooked as we expected, and tasted good.

From there we headed over to Hollywood Studios, to make sure we had a chance to see the Osborne Lights, the only other must-do of the day… since there wasn't another HS day where they would still be operating.







There were hidden mickeys everywhere in the lights. DS4 was having a great time looking for them all (something he had never done much of in the past). At least 4 in this picture alone...



We all really enjoyed the lights!

After seeing the lights we had a FP+ for Toy Story Mania, and then we headed back to the resort for the night.

As we took the bus back to the resort we reflected on how many different modes of transportation we had used in a single day, and how far we had come since waking up. ...Car, Shuttle, Airplane, AGT Train, Motorcoach, Monorail, Boat, Bus, and of course walking. Maybe we should have rented a surrey bike just to complete the list… :)

Off to bed after a long day, since we were planning an early day at Magic Kingdom tomorrow.
 
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George

wishes he had a pink frolicing llama under his tag
Nice report so far!

Tell the truth. Was changing resorts twice for a ten-day trip too much?
 

Micah008

Well-known member
Nice report so far!

Tell the truth. Was changing resorts twice for a ten-day trip too much?
A bit too much, but not as bad as I feared actually.

I didn't like only being at VGF for 2 nights, which was the only part that seemed like too much moving for us. But, even then we intentionally put all of the clothes for that part of the trip in a separate bag, so we barely even had to open the other bags.

Ideally we would have done 2 resorts for 4-6 nights each, and that is our plan for the future... but with the rest of the family arriving only 2 days after we got there, we wanted to be there with them for the beginning of their stay, which is what ended up <air-quotes>making</air-quotes> us do the extra resort.
 

Strangeite

Well-known member
Very nice. I like the tilt on the Spaceship Earth photo. :)

I guess now that I am home, I need to start writing one as well.
 

Micah008

Well-known member
Very nice. I like the tilt on the Spaceship Earth photo. :)

I guess now that I am home, I need to start writing one as well.
I am combining pictures that I took with ones that DWTS took... if it has a tilt it was her, trying to be artsy. :RpS_smile:

Sorry to hear you are back home, but glad you made it safely. Take a few days to reflect and relax first, but when you start writing I will be reading it for sure. :RpS_thumbsup:
 

George

wishes he had a pink frolicing llama under his tag
A bit too much, but not as bad as I feared actually.

I didn't like only being at VGF for 2 nights, which was the only part that seemed like too much moving for us. But, even then we intentionally put all of the clothes for that part of the trip in a separate bag, so we barely even had to open the other bags.

Ideally we would have done 2 resorts for 4-6 nights each, and that is our plan for the future... but with the rest of the family arriving only 2 days after we got there, we wanted to be there with them for the beginning of their stay, which is what ended up <air-quotes>making</air-quotes> us do the extra resort.
I always find that changing (even rooms!) takes me out of the relaxation zone. Just having to deal with front desk CMs ignites fear in my heart.
 

Micah008

Well-known member
I always find that changing (even rooms!) takes me out of the relaxation zone. Just having to deal with front desk CMs ignites fear in my heart.
I can't say I have the same "fear" you do... the main downside for us is packing back up the night before, but it doesn't really impact our day when we switch, since we usually go to a park (or some other activity) and then just go back to the other resort at the end of the day.

Still likely sticking to only 2 resorts (one change in the middle)... but it is a nice way to try out other resorts, and kinda get 2 trips in 1.
 

R&RMom

New member
Loving your report. You are a brave, brave soul vacationing with 11 people and staying in 3 different resorts!
 

Micah008

Well-known member
Day 2 - Magic Kingdom

Friday January 2nd
Crowd Level 8 - MK: Most Recommended


In November we learned that Magic Kingdom would be opening at 8am rather than 9am on our second day, and we were thrilled. Staying near MK, and being willing/able to get up early meant we would get even a little more time in the park before it got too busy. Our plan was to do Rope Drop, stick around through late morning, and then take it easy the rest of the day.

We actually got over to MK at around 7:20, even a little earlier than we had planned, due to eating a quick breakfast in the room… and it also helped having a split bathroom with an extra shower for getting ready in the morning (one of my favorite parts about the VGF Studio, especially with 3 adults in the room).



From 8:00 to 9:30 we managed to do almost all of Fantasyland (Peter Pan, Pooh, Barnstormer, Dumbo, Little Mermaid, over to Buzz Lightyear, back to Teacups and Small World).

It was now time for our first FP+ of the day, and the first time on 7DMT for DS4 and DWTS. DS4 was barely tall enough, but they let him through. Even though DS6 had gone before (back in August) he enjoyed it even more this time because we watched the movie a few weeks before the trip, and the ride made more sense to him this time. He was singing “Heigh-Hooooooo” the rest of the day.



We then did a few more things in Fantasyland, made our way over to Aladdin where we started truly seeing our first longer waits of the day (I think it was 30-40 minutes by then).

It was then time for our Splash Mountain FP+ but since DS4 wasn’t tall enough I stayed back with him at the play area near the exit.

As we left Splash it was now 11:50, and we wanted to get through before the Noon parade started … but it apparently the parade started early, so we had no choice but to just hang around and watch it while we stood on the bridge by Splash Mountain.



It was now time for lunch for sure, and because of the time we decided just to eat in the park rather than going back to the resort like we had originally planned. We ate at Tortuga Tavern, in part because it is never open when we are there… plus we had always liked the taco salad at Pecos Bills, and they still had it over at Tortuga.

After lunch we headed towards the exit, getting pictures in front of the castle, and of the Christmas decorations on Main Street.






As we exited, it was amazing to see how many people were pouring into the parks. We were happy to be heading the opposite direction, having done more things in our 4 hours than they likely would for the rest of the day.

Back at the Grand Floridian, we had a nice relaxing afternoon… spent some time at both of the pools, got a drink from the pool bar, had a cupcake at Gasparilla Island Grill, and then back to the room for a bit before we had to start getting ready for dinner.

While everyone else slowly started getting ready I spent a little time out on the balcony of the room, just watching the ferrys, boats and monorails across the water and enjoying how peaceful it was out there.



Eventually it was time for me to get ready too, and we headed over to the Contemporary for dinner at The Wave. On our last trip there the monorail was being refurbished during certain times of the day, so the trip over there was much more difficult… but this time it worked like a charm and we were there early enough to look around BLT a little first before dinner.



Dinner at The Wave was excellent, and ended up being one of the best meals of the entire trip. For an appetizer we had the Lump Crab-Florida Rock Shrimp Cakes. For dinner the 3 adults again split two things, this time we got the Herb-salt Seasoned Beef Tenderloin and Pork Tenderloin (at the recommendation of DVC Mike). I also got the Forever Young as my drink (Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Cedilla Açaí Liqueur, Muddled Blueberries, Agave Nectar, and fresh Lemon Juice), and really enjoyed it.

DS6 remembered the Rainbow Grilled Cheese from a year earlier so he made sure to order it again, and we substituted apple slices for the dessert and the kids shared it.

After dinner we walked over to the Magic Kingdom, to see the castle at night decorated for Christmas (since we usually just see the crane taking these lights back off). It was really neat to see the castle in person, and worth making a stop over.



We also used our 3rd FP+ of the day, Jungle (Jingle) Cruise.

After that we decided to head back to the resort, and were allowed to take the back way out of the park behind the buildings on main street. I knew they sometimes did this on the Tomorrowland side of Main Street, but we were able to do the same on the Adventureland side, exiting near the Crystal Palace, and then coming back “on stage” where the parade floats usually come through by City Hall.

As we made it back to the resort we realized that Wishes would be starting soon, so we walked over to the closest edge of the Polynesian (by the Luau) to be able to watch it from across the water. The music wasn’t pumped in there, but it was still a nice view, and we even got to see the Electrical Water Pageant too.



We got the kids to bed, and had to do a little packing to get ready to move in the morning … but then DW and I went back out to spend a little time just the two of us (one of the few times on the trip actually). We ended up deciding to go back to MK, where it was getting late enough the wait times were finally getting reasonable again. We went on Pirates and Splash Mountain, and then took the train back around to the front of the park to head back to the resort.

Unfortunately, our time was already coming to a close at VGF, but the trip as a whole was just getting started, and the rest of the group would be arriving tomorrow to join in the fun.
 
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Kasha

Member
Really enjoying this!
Too bad you didn't have more time to stay at VGF, it sounds like you had a wonderful room there.
 

LizD

Netflix queue currently at 3,912 - all Disney rela
Love the pics! Looks like a great trip!

I'm in!
 
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